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I was planning on making it a blackwater tank, using driftwood and peat moss. If I use peat moss, do I just put it in the tank or mix it in with the substrate, or do I put the peat moss in the filter, or somewhere else? If I want to dye with the peat moss and driftwood: For the filter, if the carbon is inside the blue fibre thing can I cut open the blue thing take the inside out, clean off the inside plastic and the blue thing of carbon, remove all of the carbon and put the blue thing back on with elastics?

To be clear, the RO is a completely separate unit than the tank and I filter tap water through it to get super soft neutral water that can then easily become acidic?

Thanks,
- Dylan
For the filter, I would just remove the cartridge and replace it with a nylon bag if you use peat, or regular filter foam/wool, whatever.

Don't see your tap water pH and hardness mentioned, am I correct in remembering that it is close to pH 8 and fairly hard? If yes, using peat will take a lot, and peat wears out in time and needs to be replaced, so in the filter rather than mixed in the substrate is better long-term. Driftwood will not significantly alter the pH, maybe .2 if lots of wood, but no more that I've ever heard of. RO unit would be preferable though expensive. Others can better explain RO, I've never needed it. But I think normally one uses it to treat the tap water (it removes minerals resulting in basically "pure" water with no hardness to speak of although the pH can be slightly acidic to neutral) for a water change and then mix it with some regular tap water to get the desired hardness and pH. I'll leave this for more experienced members to comment.

Once the tank has de-mineralized water (so to speak), the natural biological processes in the aquarium will cause the pH to lower. My tanks run at pH 5 or 6, because my tap water is zero GH and KH and pH is 7.0 or 7.2 but the lack of any hardness means the pH readily and quickly drops when added to the established tank. The tank at pH 6 is there because I maintain a half cup of dolomite in the filter that slightly hardens the water (it stays at GH 2) and maintains a stable pH with my weekly 50% water changes. The other two are at 5 although I plan on getting more dolomite to buffer them the same. I have mostly wild-caught acidic water fish so this works fine; my cardinals are in their element.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Is it possible to keep an acidic tank without using an RO unit? Can I buy peat moss in a large bag at the hardware store? Do discus like blackwater? For the filter, I just fill a nylon bag with peat moss and put it where the carbon is suposed to be?

-Dylan
 

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With very hard water, even using truckloads of peat isn't going to do much in terms of lowering pH. There are chemicals that can lower pH but these can be very tricky to use, often result in pretty substantial pH swings (never a good thing in any tank) and ultimately would be more expensive than just getting the RO unit. An RO unit is basically going to give you the same water that comes out of Byron's tap. It might be safest to use a mix of RO water and tap just so there's some buffer there to prevent your pH from falling through the floor if you plan on using driftwood/peat for the blackwater effect.

For the filter, you could put the peat granules in a filter bag and just drop it in, or slice open the cartridge, dump out the carbon and add some peat inside the cartridge, etc. Discus would look (and feel) great in a blackwater environment. You want to buy peat made for aquarium use as just about any you buy anywhere else is going to be treated with chemicals that will kill your fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Thanks for that info... my tap water is only 7.2, it isnt very basic/alkaline and it is medium hard. So:
-water goes into RO unit
-water comes out pure and neutral into a bucket
-water is mixed with tap water
-water is poored into aquarium
-pure water + mature tank = drop in pH
- Sounds good
:)

So I pretty much have to frequently monitor the pH? Do I have to do a water test after every water change?
What pH level would you recommend for this tank? I was thinking around 6.0.

-Dylan :)
 

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Those are better readings than I remembered, must have been someone else I was thinking of. The hardness of your tap water is something you should test, the fish store will usually test for you, but make sure they tell you the GH and KH numbers. Once we know the KH it will be easier to work out solutions. Sometimes you can get this info from the water supply people.

One just popped into my head, thinking back to the rainwater. Mixing rainwater and tap water to set the tank up might give you near perfect conditions; the pH would be low 6's and hardness with the mix mighty be 3-5 degrees. Just guessing here, the GH and KH of your tap water will give an indication how successful they might be.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
That would mean a lot of rain and therefore !A LOT! of snow. If the original pH of my newly set up tank water is 6, if I do 2 or more water changes per week, won't the pH go back up to around 7. Wouldn't I have to continuously collect rain and snow?
 

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That would mean a lot of rain and therefore !A LOT! of snow. If the original pH of my newly set up tank water is 6, if I do 2 or more water changes per week, won't the pH go back up to around 7. Wouldn't I have to continuously collect rain and snow?
As I said, it partly depends upon the KH and GH of your tap water. Once we have that...

In another thread the API faucet filter was mentioned, it allegedly deionizes water which means removes the minerals via the resin cartridges. I asked in that thread if anyone had experience on how well this works. That might be an option, but I've no idea how much the unit costs, how long the cartridges last, or how much they cost.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
So kind of like a BRITA filter type thing for the sink faucet? Would boiling water have the same effects as a RO unit, as of getting rid of all the minerals and thefore making the water 0ppm hardness?
 

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So kind of like a BRITA filter type thing for the sink faucet? Would boiling water have the same effects as a RO unit, as of getting rid of all the minerals and thefore making the water 0ppm hardness?
Not sure exactly what a Britta does, but I suspect if it did what you're after we would know about it. To my knowledge boiling water won't remove minerals; evaporating water does somewhat, then condensing it again...talk about work.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I would rather not reproduce the whole water cycle in mini version just to get acidic water :) Do you have to refill ro units with chemicals, or are there no chemicals only semipermiable membranes?

Dylan.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
If my aquarium water is 6pH, if I add 6pH water, will the water stay the same pH or does the gH and kH and dH affect this too? If I use ro water and I add tap water until it is at 6 and add it to my tank what will happen? I am going to the LFS tomorrow and I am going to do a water test, I will tell you the gH and kH.

Dylan.
 

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Let's get the numbers before we look at this Dylan. And I didn't respond to your previous post because i was hoping someone with knowledge of RO units would. Just so you know I'm not ignoring you:). B.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
:) Dont worry, i didnt think you were ignoring me. When I go to the LFS tomorrow, I will ask them the parameters of the water they keep their discus in and the same for the rams, cardinals and cories. Since the discus are most likely tank raised (I will ask) they can easily become accustomed to more neutral pH. I truly dont know what my pH is, the lowest number my crappy pool water test has is 7.2, so my water might actually be lower than that. I am hoping the kH is relatively low. If the water is only 7.0 or about that, and my water is generally soft, I might just try to lower the pH with peat moss, hoping that there arent any buffers in my tank that wouldnt allow the peat to work. Once I have the readings of my water and the lfss water, i will be able to make an appropriate decision as to what is the best way that I could comfortably keep discus, or if I should, spare myself the effort and go with angelfish and blackskirt tetras (not very likely :)

Thanks,
-Dylan.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
So, i went to the LFS and they werent doing water tests anymore so the guy told me to buy a water testing kit, which was like 50$ so I said no. He didnt know what the water parameters of the discus tanks were because the discus and saltwater guy wasnt at work that day. I ended up only buying more plants for my 29 and 4 amano (or yamato) shrimp for my 10 gal. I will have to go to another store to test my water and I will go to that store when mr.discus is there to ask for advice since my water is probably similar if not the same as their tap water. They also had tests for only pH or only gh/kh, only nitrates etc. but they were like 15$ each and I didnt want to buy all of those different things. I will have to report back to you guys once I get my water parameters all sorted out :)

By the way, I might have made this LFS seem kind of bad but they are one of the best pet stores I have ever seen, they had like 50+ species of plecos (no exageration) every possible colour of guppie, every tetra known to man, oscars, arrowanas and plecos bigger than my cat, every plant I could think of, crazy saltwater fish and even seahorses at some times. they also have a knowlegable staff of lke 20 people. Although the prices go up due to the good service and expertises :( BTW it was a bit discouragin to see that the least expensive juvenile discus was 49.99$ and the most expensive was over 100$. Also I saw some dennisoni barbs that I once wanted, but they were 12$ a piece!!! Sterbai cories were 7.00$ each. I know other privately owned small stores that have them for like 2$ each and cardinal tetras for 1$ each and they arent of any lower quality ;) I hope you enjoyed my little summary of yesterday :)

thank you

-Dylan.
 

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As I said, it partly depends upon the KH and GH of your tap water. Once we have that...

In another thread the API faucet filter was mentioned, it allegedly deionizes water which means removes the minerals via the resin cartridges. I asked in that thread if anyone had experience on how well this works. That might be an option, but I've no idea how much the unit costs, how long the cartridges last, or how much they cost.

Byron.
Just a follow-up on the API gadet, note Harri's post #10 in this thread:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/aquarium-plants/ph-planted-aquarium-36532/
This may be worth looking at.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
I read that entire thread I think that would be a very good option for this tank. I know my tap water is around 7-7.2 and around 100-125ppm alkalinity and slightly less than 200ppm total hardness, I dont know how or if that translates to degrees in gH and kH. I am pretty sure my water is medium to soft ish. The concept is retty similar to an RO unit with that API gadget. I have relatively pure water that is generally neutral and extremely soft, therefore, I can add as much of my tap water to it, to attain my desired pH, that I could then safely add to my aquarium. I was also reading more about peat moss and I read somewhere that it acts also as a buffer and it softens the water, acidifies the water and maintains the water at a certain softness and hardness. If the peat moss works as a buffer couldnt I just add my dechlorinized tap water and the peat moss would automatically absorb the minerals and keep my water at lets say 6pH. What is the range of hardness discus genrally tolerate (in ppm)?
 

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79-86° F, KH 1-3, pH 6.1-7.5

Let me check if there is a way to convert it to ppms

I believe it would be 17.9 - 53.7 ppms
 

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Discussion Starter #38
6.1 to 7.5? I thought discus liked 5.5 to 7.0? I would definately have to lower the kH for discus.
 

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To convert ppm to dGH and vice versa, 17.8 is the number you use. You divide ppm by 17.8 to get the dGH, or you multiply the dGH by 17.8 to get ppm. So in your case Dylan, 200ppm of GH is 11 dGH. That is medium hard, so lowering it with the API might be sufficient.

The optimum pH for discus would be 4.2 to 6.2 but others say they will adapt to the low 7's though unlikely to spawn. Hardness less than 3 dGH is preferred, and I will leave it to the discus experts to suggest possible higher values. If cardinals are still in the plan, I would definitely have the pH below 7 and reducing the hardness is certainly required for them.

Peat works to soften water by releasing tannins. As I think was noted before, it wears out and needs replacing; the life of the peat would depend upon the hardness and the water volume, and having never used this I couldn't say what amounts that might be required.

Byron.
 

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As far as those fish prices are concerned, those do seem a bit high with the notable exception of the Denison's Barbs. $12 a piece is a very good deal for those, as I usually see them for about $20 each for small fish (2-3") and $30 for larger specimens (5" or so).
 
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